New secondary school has no provision for PE hall or canteen ‘not good enough’ says TD

By Maurice Garvey

PLANS for the new secondary school in Ballyfermot contain no provision for a PE hall or canteen, a situation blasted as “not good enough” by TD Bríd Smith (PBP).

St Seton’s Secondary School – the amalgamation of Ballyfermot secondary schools, Caritas College, St Dominic’s College and St John’s College – is to open in September 2022 at the site of St Johns College.

St Johns College Amalgamation 04 1

Demi County and Georgia Robinson, Dylan Hopkins and Cian Whelan with Abi Lennon and Megan Kavanagh Byrne

Billed as a modern campus, with innovative design features that can facilitate 800 students, Deputy Smith welcomes the development of a new school but “strongly objects to what is currently proposed”.

She launched a petition this week calling on the Minister for Education Norma Foley to ensure that the new school is delivered with “suitable facilities for students and staff”.

“We have to be clear that the plan must meet the educational needs and aspirations of the young people of Ballyfermot,” said Deputy Smith.

“There is no plan to deliver a PE hall, canteen or on site care facilities for staff, students and parents. There aren’t even parking facilities. Parents and staff in Ballyfermot are contacting me and are extremely concerned.

“The Minister for Education is proposing that such facilities may be provided at some stage in the future, but she makes no guarantees. That’s not good enough. To propose a new educational facility that excludes the most fundamental requirements for development of body as well as mind is wholly irresponsible. The young people of Ballyfermot don’t just deserve better, they deserve the best. This new school must deliver it.”

In a Parliamentary response to Deputy Smith in March, Minister Foley said the budget brief for the new school “does not include a new PE Hall, GP dining or car parking facilities, as such accommodation does not fall under the remit of the Additional School Accommodation Scheme.

“The patrons of the three schools, in question, were informed of the parameters of the Additional School Accommodation Scheme at the time of application and agreed to proceed with the project brief.  

“The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place.” 

The Department of Education are understood to be providing a grant in the region of €6.5 million for additional accommodation at the new school, plus €23,000 for furniture and fittings, and an ICT grant of €99,715.

Existing school accommodation at Le Fanu Rd has received grants of €1,634,000 over the past decade for upgrades and refurbishment – which school facilitators say, will further enhance the campus as a whole.

The Minister said government is committed to a PE Hall build and modernisation programme, starting in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period.

She said it is open to school patrons to apply for ancillary accommodation, if required, under future rounds of capital funding.            PR Committee Spokesperson, St Seton's Secondary School, Ann Marie Leonard, said: “We are working closely with the design team and the Department of Education and Skills in progressing the building project and are very happy with progress. St Seton's is being planned for 800 students as a modern campus with all necessary facilities for students and staff to provide the best educational experience for the 21st century.

“We look forward to getting additional facilities in due course including enhanced provision to cater for the growing need to accommodate students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.”

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